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Irish government officials ‘had no inkling’ that thousands of racehorses were being sent to Britain for slaughter

IRISH government officials have denied they were aware that thousands of ex-racehorses previously trained in Ireland were being sent for slaughter to British abattoirs.

BBC Panorama reported on Monday night that racehorses killed in British plants had been transported from Ireland, with some travelling more than 350 miles by road with critical injuries.

It is illegal under Irish and European law to transport a horse in a way that is likely to cause it injury or undue suffering.

A number of officials appeared before a committee today to express their shock.

“I categorically knew nothing about this until I saw what was on [the programme],” the agriculture department’s Dr Kevin Smyth said. “I had no inkling whatsoever.”

“If it was the case that the animal was loaded on a box and transported 200 miles, that’s clearly illegal.”

Fianna Fail Dail member Joe Flaherty warned that ownership and traceability of the movement of horses remains a grey area in Ireland.

“We need to get horse ownership in Ireland, the traceability and where they are sold, how they are sold and where they are exported all into one central database,” he said.

“In the modern age it’s inconceivable that we have not been able to hack that.”

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